Conor Clancy Date: 9th March 2019 at 7:54pm
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It was anything but comfortable, but Parma managed to overcome Genoa at the Stadio Ennio Tardini to win at home after four straight defeats in front of their own fans.

Juraj Kucka’s late strike was just about enough for the Crociati as the Slovak midfielder continues to have a positive impact since his January arrival from Trabzonspor.

Chances were very much at a premium and despite both sides trying their best to get forward, neither was ever really able to carve out anything in the form of a clear-cut opportunity.

Cristian Kouame was the brightest spark for the Grifone again and he was unsurprisingly at the centre of their first purposeful attack. Daniel Bessa and the young forward exchanged passes on the edge of the box and the former then hit a cross-shot towards the back post, which just evaded the oncoming Antonio Sanabria.

Things stayed quite cagey for a while after that, with a number of crosses and long balls being either overhit or swallowed up by the imposing Bruno Alves.

Roberto Inglese hadn’t scored in his last four Serie A outings and he excellently put the ball in the net after 25 minutes but the offside flag was rightly raised to ensure the scores remained locked at 0-0.

Parma appeared to take some confidence from that though and they came close again within a minute. This time Luca Siligardi did well on the right before picking out Federico Dimarco with a deep ball to the back post, where the full-back had a tame effort saved by Jandrei.

Genoa’s best chances came from bypassing Bruno Alves with crosses into the box as Sanabria looked to peel away from the Portuguese, once teeing up a chance for a teammate while failing to get the desired contact on another.

Juraj Kucka has proven to be an important player for Parma since returning to Italy and he popped up with the game’s opening goal with a little over ten minutes to play, just as it looked like nothing was going to find its way into the net.

A corner was headed down and bounced up off the crossbar and Rigoni pounced on the rebound but he could only ricochet it onto the post again, with the ball appearing to come off his arm. Thankfully for the hosts, though, Kucka was on hand to rifle the subsequent rebound into the roof of the net.

VAR was referred to but the referee didn’t consult the pitchside screen himself and after a long wait, the goal was confirmed.

Gervinho had the chance to kill the game off as he went one-on-one with Jandrei but even after rounding the goalkeeper he blazed over an open goal from an angle, when he should have scored or passed to a supporting teammate.

Kouame almost made the Ivorian pay instantly, but he hit his own effort over the crossbar at the other end.

No way past big Bruno

There are few players in Serie A as important to their teams as Bruno Alves is to Parma. He is their organiser, leader, motivator and the one who strikes fear into opposing forwards.

With just 29 goals in their 27 Serie A games this season, the Gialloblu supporters must dread to think where they would be without their captain.

Gervinho grabs the headlines, Roberto Inglese gets some goals, but Bruno Alves is everything else for Roberto D’Aversa. He organises, he dominates his box and he completely nullifies opposing teams.

Even Cristiano Ronaldo and Mauro Icardi struggled against him this season and the Portuguese being linked to Juventus as an emergency signing in January will have made perfect sense to anyone who has watched him closely since his return to Serie A.

Even without Alessandro Bastoni by his side, Alves kept things together at the back again for the Crociati.

Parma find a midfield

It may not be the most creative, but in Juraj Kucka, Luca Rigoni and Matteo Scozzarella, Parma had a midfield that made their presence felt on Saturday.

Often overrun in the middle of the pitch this season, Kucka’s arrival was always going to be important for D’Aversa and while he’s still settling in Emilia-Romagna, his presence has helped his team.

The No.87 is enjoying life in Emilia-Romagna and he was in the right place at the right time to smash home his second goal in seven games since joining in January.

In the game against Napoli, in particular, they were completely at sea but the trio selected on Saturday showed something and had Alberto Grassi not fallen injured, he would be the perfect upgrade on Scozzarella at its centre.